|Bullants Red||Bullants White|
And so it ends, with the Preston Derby at Preston City Oval. Doesn’t get any more Preston than that! The boys were primed to take on their ‘big brother’ in Preston Reds. We’d got a look at these fellas in the last encounter where we mixed up the teams but today the guys wanted to take them on. A strong team took that field and the guys were encouraged to bring their ‘A’ game. And bring it they did. From the get go the guys were really trying hard and getting their hands on the ball.
The centres were fantastic from the get go and brought some genuine heat. Zac H, Remi, Sammy H and Harry were winning their fair share and pumping it forward.
The Reds are a good unit and as the Whites coach I was impressed by how they spread out and linked up. It was a great lesson for the Whites to learn from as we’re still tending to get drawn toward the ball.
The backline of Coen, Spencer, Zach B, Jayden, Benny P and Jamie Wilson did what they’ve done all year, with intense tackling pressure and clean exits from full back. That’s been something the coaches have been really happy with. Early in the year we found it very hard to get out of the backline but we did it well today. Auden had his first kicks out from full back and did an awesome job and Spencer might have played his best game for the club. Good on you mate.
The midfield battle was hard. Tackling was heavy and the bigger bodies of the Reds got on top, but not without some good little victories for the Whites. The guys had lots of centre clearances with Jett getting the taps out and Harry roving away in a best in White performance, Louis and Ollie were really hard at it.
When we did get it into the forward line there was some genuine class waiting to take advantage. Andrew has really blossomed down at full forward and he had good opportunities today. Joey had a tough, long shot after the siren and did the team proud with a super effort that just faded to the right. There was great support from Caden, Luca, Gigi, Jonah and Mitch were all great again.
As the game went on the Reds proved a very good side and the backs were asked to do just a bit too much. But as always, they didn’t drop their heads and played the game out in style. What a great group they are.
So that’s it for 2018. The Whites have played a lot of older teams this year, and they’ve done themselves proud with their skill, effort and their dedication to their team mates.
The highlight of the day came at the end when both teams joined up to sing the song. It was a rousing version and great to see 40 odd tackers belting out the song.
|Bullants Red||Bullants White
Last game of the year – where has the season gone? Billed as the Clash of the Red v The White, it was Showdown No 2 between the Tackers Reds and Tackers Whites. More was on line for both coaches and assistant coaches with some pre game mind games.
Down at PCO we set the ground up along the grandstand side and the stands were filled with supporters for the last game of the year. The ground looked a treat after the rain – the grass looking green, the air smelt of bacon and eggs, and the rooms had that real footy feel with massage benches, exercise bikes and the aroma of Dencorub!
Again we emphasised the team rules, enjoy your footy, loud voices, be in front, stick on your player, don’t be behind the play and importantly have fun.
After mixing the teams earlier this year we knew that the Whites coaches Dan and Russ had really instilled some great features in the Whites game so we would have to be on our game and bring our team footy to the game if we were to be competitive.
Captain for the day was Dylan – a real reward for effort for the classy on baller. Dylan puts in 150% on both the training track and in games and is an inspiration to all his teammates and coaches.
It was great having Tom an YDFL umpire officiating the game and the kids got a real kick out of it – Thanks Tom! Dylan won the toss and we kicked to the Cramer St end.
We emphasised again that we would rotate groups of players through the backs, centres and forwards for the entire game, so everyone would get a taste of the game and positions for the last game of the year. The game from opening bounce was played at a frantic pace, both teams putting in as a lot was at stake. Again, our team rules would help us and we improved quarter by quarter.
As I mentioned in the last banter the most pleasing has been our; discipline in picking up our players, our attack on the football our pressure around the contest, our backing each other up, our second and third efforts, playing in front, hands out for the mark and marking improvement and most importantly I think over the 15 rounds our disposal of the football by both hand and foot has really improved.
I thought we really clicked in the last quarter with our ball movement with some exceptional play from backline to centre to forward line. A fantastic morning and it was great to see both sides join in the circle to sing the song. Well done to everyone.
Our medal went to Patrick – what a year Patrick has had, first to the footy, under packs and clean disposal – well done Patrick!
More on each player at presentation day in September.
Thanks to everyone who assisted on the day and the season it’s been much appreciated by all.
Our boys arrived at Springfield Park Box Hill on Sunday morning all pumped up and ready to play finals. We had a round robin of 3 games and if we were to finish on top of our group that would secure our spot in our very first Grand Final. The boys all arrived early all pumped up and switched on. All week the coach has been drilling into the boys that it’s finals week and all must come prepared with their A game and nothing less.
Our first game was against Richmond, a team that proved to be one of the strongest during the year. But the Bullants came out fully focused with nothing but blood dripping from their teeth ready to take this flag home. Coach had a plan and the boys stuck to it all year. Playing the boundaries and leaving the passage open for our midfielders. This eliminated less turnover and created more opportunity to kick goals. Boys came out the strongest we have ever seen them. Adam was having an absolute blinder. Dominating play in the midfield. We were all watching Luca, hoping he wouldn’t get injured until he took an amazing mark 15 meters out. He took a run up and bannnng kicked Bullants first goal. The boys went to town with this game. Yusuf kicking the second goal it looked like it was going to be a promising day.
Bullants boys were moving the ball all game, and how they were talking to one another was brilliant. Yusuf dominated the ruck and with Darcy, Boodie and Adam in the midfield it was a clear exercise of preponderant, governing, and controlling influence towards Richmond. Everyone was so happy with their performance. Sam, Aiden, Sid and Christian were exceptional in the backline. They put so much pressure on Richmond’s forwards that they struggled to score. Luca was on fire, and kicking his second goal secured our first win. We beat Richmond by 38 points and we did it with complete domination.
We had a good 45 min rest before the next game which was against Camberwell B. The boys were excited to get out and play for a second win. With a 45 min break the boys were warned not to get lazy and stick to the plan. After the first bounce the boys looked a bit slower and less enthusiastic compared to the first game but they went out and got the job done winning the game by 8 points. Camberwell B were not as quick or as skilful as Richmond yet we only beat them by 8 points. That showed us that the Bullants were slacking off. Coach had a word to them and told them to keep trying and give the 150% they gave in the first game. Again Yusuf, Darcy and Omar were best on ground. Omar’s push away palm to the face was just sheer class.
We had our second win with one game to play. The officials notified us that we were pretty much secured in the Grand Final. All we needed to do was win our next game against Ashburton and we were home. Ashburton weren’t exactly the most skilful team with a lot of younger kids in the side. We had another 45 min break before the game against Ashburton. The boys were taking it easy and relaxing. The coach was a little worried but not too concerned. At the bounce the boys looked slow, tired and disinterested. Ashburton came out dominating and completely ripped our infrastructure apart.
The boys didn’t know what hit them. All those hotdogs and pasties they ate during the break caught up with them. The first half Bullants were down by 10 points. The half time speech by the coach was scary to say the least. We have never seen the veins in Ufouks neck popping out the way they were. He gave them a spray of a life time. He warned them that we can still miss out on the GF if we lost. The boys went out pretty much the same way as they did in the first half. Before you knew it the siren had gone and the Bullants had gone down by 8 points to Ashburton.
What just happened!!! We won 15 games in a row all year only to lose our last game before our big dance. Was this our last game for the year? Did we end our season this way? The boys walked off the ground in complete shock.
Coach sat them all down and had a serious chat with them. He told them that this loss could jeopardise the position in the grand final and that there was a strong chance they were going to miss out. Suddenly all the boys had tears running down their cheeks. Their emotions got the best of them. They all knew they let each other down. The Bullants were solid all year, they were the favourites and what a way to go out. It was heart breaking to say the least. Suddenly the place felt like a funeral. All the boys were in tears. Emotions running wild. Coach was trying to contain them but it was too late. Ufouk acted as a Coach/Teacher/childcare worker and at times a marital councillor but he was not prepared for this. It felt like a scene out of Titanic. Jack Dawson had passed away. What were we going to do if we missed out on the GF over one bad performance? And then it happened....an AFL official ran out and told us we just scraped through and qualified into the final round. Preston Bullants were in the Grand Final against Camberwell A.
When the boys heard this, they jumped up and started celebrating. They were so happy and relieved. They knew how important this next game was to them.
Coach sat them down and ordered them to take all their emotions, frustrations and anger they experience the previous game and apply it to their advantage in the next game. This was the final show. The main attraction, the game everyone came to watch. The boys had a scary look in their eyes. A look you would see in the eyes of a lion moments before it dismantled an injured antelope. They were ready to play!
Coach structured the players to their best positions. They were playing an unbeaten Camberwell A. One of the strongest teams all year.
This was to be the game that we come out with a clear understanding of our approach to the game, our attitude, and be ready to leave absolutely nothing in the tank.
With our two leaders Adam and Boodie setting the tone for the day, we entered the first half with the intent to unsettle the opposition and leave them bewildered. There are no denying Camberwell’s skills with the leather ball and they have had a great season this year, however the Bullants left them in a panic with their pressure and ball movement from the get go. It was magnificent to watch, with every Bullant member working hard and as one. Our midfield was winning most of the clearances, Archie, Barnaby And Sean were amazing. Our forward line Sid, Lucas, Owen wasn't waiting long to receive the ball and our backline was always prepared to defend every contest.
It was fantastic to see the speed of the boys.
Yusuf tapped the ball to Adam who then quickly handballs it to Darcy which then bombed it down to Lucas who took a mark and kicked our first goal. We were up in arms. Suddenly within 2 mins Camberwell responded with a sneaky goal. We were 2 points up. At half time coach sat them down and said this was the last advice he could give them. After they went out it would be on their shoulders. 15 min of footy felt until next year. You can be either Heroes or Zeros.? They went out with the same instructions they had all year. Nothing fancy just stick to basics and apply pressure.
The way our Bullants started was powerful. I have never seen them play with such passion and drive. What a turn around. They all knew they had everything to lose and there was no turning back.
Once again, our midfield set the tone and they lifted their game to another level. Yusuf, Adam and Darcy were stars. They completely controlled the game and Camberwell were getting humbled by Bullants hegemonic mastery. But the game wasn’t over yet.
Suddenly Camberwell won the ball out of the midfield and went for a run towards the forward line. They had no one to kick it to so the Camberwell player decided to take on our defence. Camberwell player was faced one on one with Louie our youngest player. We knew this was going to be a do or die moment for both players. With 2 min to go and 2 points up we were about to lose this game. It all came down to Louie. The Camberwell midfielder was quick. He baulked one player and then the second and then was face to face with Louie. As he tried to break away we suddenly saw Louie put on the chase of the season. Louie ran him down and tackled the midfielder, stopping the goal that would have seen Camberwell win the game. The crowd went WILD! I have never heard a crowd roar the way they did. What a defining moment. Louie saved the day. Within 30 sec we sent the ball down to our forward line with Barnaby kicking a goal to seal the win. Siren goes and Preston Bullants win and become the 2018 under 10s premiers.
We would like to thank the coaching staff: Heidi, Kass, Nic and a special thank you to Ufouk for doing a fantastic job with the boys. thank you all for your hard work this year and for a great season! Keep up the training in the off season and We hope you all return to play for the Bullants next season.
Well Done Bullants!!!
For our final games of the 2018 season as Under 10 Red we set off for Bulleen Park on a beautifully clear winters morning. We had the full team and plenty of supporters. With our trusty Coach Paul, Trainer Deanne, Goal umpires Marko and Arthur and Boundary Umpire Sam we were all set for a fun morning of shorter games and electric pace.
Positioned in Pool A we were up against Fitzroy, Park Orchards and Camberwell.
The boys did really well in securing a win against Fitzroy. It was a game of 2 halves!!! The second half team was fired up! The whole team played magnificently and Leon scored 2 impressive goals and Shep made the most of a pack contest in front of goal to also score. The skills the boys showed were a highlight of the year. They were also very good at looking out for and supporting each other to set up plays and attack the contest.
The next 2 games we knew would be tough as we had played these 2 teams recently and they challenged us. Tom scored a brilliant goal against Park Orchards and the whole team contributed by listening to Paul and playing the role asked of them.
Whilst we only had the 1 win on the day the boys demonstrated plenty of resilience, determination and commitment. I think just quietly they may also have had a lot of fun!
The things I have loved most about this year is getting to know these boys and their beautiful families. There have been plenty of laughs and lots of great football moments. There have been fun times – training and flossing, brilliant tackles, superb marking contests, some textbook goals and displays of teamwork and sportsmanship to warm the hardest hearts. There have been moments were our breath was taken away in both awe and frustration.
Each boy has bought something unique and fabulous to the team and I hope they feel that has been valued. Noah S-B had a very steep learning curve as it was his first year of playing afl and The lightning cup was the day he showed all of us just how much he has learnt his year. Our glorious Josh’s – Stoj and Sergi - different in approach but both with lots to contribute and so keen to get to the ball and have an impact. Our running machines Noah R and Shep who chase and burn off and make us cheer. To Tom and Zac who have brilliant hands and the capacity to get the ball out in difficult conditions, our golden boot Sonny whose kick is a thing of beauty. Our amazing midfield Jack, Archie, Leon and Edwin who week in week out are first to the ball, using quick hands and often at the bottom of the pack. Our brilliant last line of defence in Alex, Roman and Brock – you have been tested this year and your calmness and teamwork have been fabulous and to Kade, Ethan and Jakob who were often at centre half forward or back you all helped to provide attack or defensive marking opportunities where needed and move the ball to space.
Most of our team would not be described as “giants” and I think we have all watched in admiration as these kids attack the ball, tackle and shepherd. Putting themselves at the front of a pack to contest a mark and finding the ball in their hands. We have seen nostrils flair and spirits deflate as some other teams dealt out poor off ball behaviours but our boys kept going. We have some magnificent runners, markers, rucks, a lot of heart and a lot of kids who love to chat and laugh and play fortnite!! Thanks so much for always looking out for each other and continuing to try when we were being beaten pretty thoroughly at times.
It is also time to acknowledge the efforts of the Bullants Committee in their support and commitment to ensuring our kids have a great experience. Thanks for the many hours you contribute to ensuring we have a club that operates effectively.
Enjoy the break from playing and see you all in 2019 I hope.
With finals not on the cards this was the Bullants last game for the season. To the boys credit they were as eager as ever to play and try and win so that we could sing the song for the final time in 2018
We were treated to a fine morning at Ashburton’s home ground which was smaller than the usual expanses of Zwar.
Watto and Sam were nominated captains for the day as reward for their great effort at training throughout the season. The boys won the toss and chose to kick to the end that was going against the breeze so that we would have the advantage in the last quarter.
We gave the coach the day off and Issy (who was unfortunately out injured) donned the coaches bib to see if he could work his magic.
Like most of the previous games, the Bullants started with great intensity and it wasn’t long before the highlights started to role in. Tom was his usual hard working self, laying tackles and getting a lot of the ball and together with Sam they provided great opportunities for our forwards. Callum and Kes provided a great connection at half forward. The ball was pinging around on the small ground, but with the trusty backline being led by Joe and Hamish the Bullants looked safe. Azza and Marcus used their great leg speed and skill and the Bullants had a number of opportunities. Tamer, Ziggy and Pablo were great targets. Unfortunately Tamer’s shot late in the quarter (as a result of a good mark) just fell short and was rushed through for a point.
Ashburton R 1.1.7 Bullants 0.1.1
With the advantage of the wind the Bullants started well in the second quarter. Venuto was on the wing and getting involved in some good link play between the backline and forwards, setting Azza up who in turn got the ball to Tamer who hit a beautiful pass to Tommy G. On a 45 degree angle at about 30m out then Tommy made no mistake and kicked our first goal of the game.
Ashburton then turned up the pressure and it really become an arm wrestle. Ned was playing a great role off the half back flank reading the play and repelling many attacks, and when it did get deep into Ashburton’s forward 50. Joe, Hamish, Watto, Jake, Woody and Xavier had their opponents covered. A big mention goes to Joe who was playing one of his typical games (hard at the ball and beautiful reading of the play). His attack in one contest left the coaching panel in awe as he emerged from a heavy bump with the ball whilst his opponent was a little worse for wear.
At half time it was a close contest with Ashburton narrowly in front.
Ashburton R 2.2.14 Bullants 1.4.10
The Bullants well and truly had the better of the play in the 3rd quarter with Tom patrolling the forward 50 and taking some great marks. His shots at goal unfortunately just missed, with one shot hitting the post with such force that it was nearly ripped from the ground! Eden played one of his best games to date. The Bullants put an enormous amount of pressure on Ashburton which resulted in repeat entries. Venuto took another fantastic mark and with a quick play on hit Pablo who marked in the forward 50. He quickly played-on and kicked to the top of the square to give the Bullants another opportunity, but once again, it only resulted in a minor score.
Dash dominated in the ruck and around the ground with his pace. The ball lived in the Bullants forward line. It was unfortunate that the siren sounded when it did as the Bullants domination was starting to tell on Ashburton with another opportunity stopped when the Siren sounded.
Ashburton R 2.3.15 Bullants 1.7.13
As seemed to be the case in most of the previous games the last quarter was another arm wrestle. Harry provided great run and delivery, and Callum and Kes roamed the half forward line the Bullants were just falling short, which may have had something to do with the wind changing direction slightly so it no longer favoured the end they were kicking to. In their last quarter of the season the boys gave it their all, with Harry and Watto showing great desperation, Kes going on one of his trade mark runs, Joe’s attack on the ball, Marcus displaying his usual skill and desperate attack (with a couple of great smothers thrown in), Xavier taking on and beating his opponent to save a certain goal, tackles by Venuto and contests by Woody and Callum (sorry for the long sentence!!!)
In the end the siren sounded and with that so did the season. As per the whole season, the Bullants gave it their all, but it wasn’t enough. Ashburton had played a good last quarter and managed to add 5 points to our no score to run out the winner.
With the game finished the boys lined up for the last time this season to shake the hands of their opponents. The Ashburton coach was full of praise for the Bullants, with the familiar story around how we had been one of their toughest challenges to date.
With the season done the coaches had one final chat to the boys, we wanted to remind them of how proud we were of their effort, their never say die attitude, and their great sportsmanship, but most of all we wanted to thank them for allowing us to coach them and be part of their team. The one thing that has never faltered with this group is their desire and enthusiasm to do the best they can for themselves and the team.
As the season finished there were smiles all around, even though the results didn’t go our way, the boys played all games in the right spirit, embodying the core values of being a Bullant. With 2018 over we look forward to 2019 knowing that if the boys stick together they will achieve great things next year.
As a final note, the coaches would like to thank all the parents who helped throughout the year, either at training or on game day. Without your support there wouldn’t be the team that we now know.
Bye for now, we will see all of you in 2019
Sunday playing at our PCO ground, Preston Bullants welcomed Brunswick Park, both teams having plenty to play for - Preston for a hope to secure 2nd position if the results were to go their way, and Brunswick for a possible spot in the four.
The Bullants started with a new look centre set up and a restructured forward and back line, with each player playing an important role in their part of the ground.
It was a very even first quarter resulting in Preston holding a 7 point lead the second quarter followed a similar path as we continued with a 8 point lead. Half time scores being Preston 22 to Brunswick 14.
Half time we took the opportunity for a few position changes and the Bullants shone with a great third quarter, one of their best for the year, kicking 2 goals and 3 points, with Brunswick only scoring 1 point for the quarter! This was due to some great quick ball movement, some fantastic team work and excellent running with the ball. Scores at three quarter time 37-15
With a few more positional changes and a quick chat from the coaching team the boys went into the last quarter in good spirits, unfortunately Brunswick Park gained their momentum and their drive to win and ploughed ahead outscoring the Bullants in a tense final quarter taking us out by 3 points at the final siren.
The Brunswick coaching group commented on the Bullants skill and teamwork, and how well the boys prepared themselves to work, run and share the ball with their team mates. This was clearly noticeable in the first three quarters of Sundays game which had them in the leading position at three quarter time "playing like this is what is needed to WIN games of footy"
This week we start finals - Hawthorn Citizens R in our sights and this gives the Bullant boys the opportunity to showcase their skills and teamwork which is what has got the boys to the finals for a second year in a row, in two different grades.
The coaching team are very proud of the efforts that have been put in and what has been achieved over the season, so let's turn up on Sunday and put in our Best Bullant performance yet for 4 solid quarters and let’s show them how good we are!!
Enjoy the finals - Go Bullants!!
This game was basically a dead rubber in terms of the result as we had already secured a finals berth for next week. A win would see us lock in third and a loss could potentially drop us to fourth. Internally we were treating it as the first leg of a four week block – a chance for us to gain some form and momentum against a good opponent. Last time we met Fitzroy we were involved in a low scoring draw and today we moved some players around to give us more scoring power. Our starts had been a worry all year so I had worked on a few things to rectify this. It worked. Olivia Cotsy was giving Grundy-like silver service to Freya and Marianne who were unstoppable in the first five minutes. Our re-vamped forward line with the addition of Erin was working and we didn’t have to wait long for our first major. Zoe, who has looked the likely type over the past few weeks, took it to the next level. She gathered a ball from Charlotte, took a bounce and slotted our first. Straight out of the old man’s highlight reel. Caitlin ran the length of the ground to celebrate with her mate and I knew we would be hard to beat today. Fitzroy knew they could not make finals and today was going to be their grand final. They would provide us with a fight at some stage we needed to be ready. Scores at quarter time were Fitzroy 0.0.0 to Preston 1.0.6.
The second quarter saw the home team lift in front of its supporters. We had control of the stoppages but could not manage any deep forward entries. Gabby was having her best game in red and white and looking dangerous. Charlotte’s new role as the general in the forward line was assisting with our structure and allowing our smaller players opportunities around the ruck contests. Little Liv had a brilliant 3 minute period where she was involved in a tackle and a couple of hard ball gets. Our defenders, led by Ella and Libby, had their hands full as Fitzroy kicked with the aid of the breeze. Victoria, probably the best kick in the competition, was repelling attack after attack. Lily and Caitlin were also getting involved across half back. Our intensity dropped ever so slightly and Fitzroy pounced to kick a good goal to level the scores. Still, Ayva B was beginning to stamp her authority on the game and was becoming the clearance queen we know she can be. We were in for a fight, the perfect hit out before the real stuff starts in a week. Scores at the main break were Fitzroy 1.0.6 to Preston 1.0.6.
The third quarter saw us use the wind to our advantage and we dominated possessions across the field. Ava M went to the backline and beat her opponent every time the ball came down. Tyler also was gathering momentum down back and was using her speed to our advantage. Today a lot of our smaller and less experienced players were stepping up and proving to us all that they were more than capable. Amelia typified this with grit and determination and a brilliant run down the wing where she put on an angry face and barged through the opposition, booting the ball down the field to Lucy who kicked to Erin who flicked it over to Charlotte for a well-deserved major. Our onballers continued their domination with Ayva B having a game to remember. Special mention goes to Olivia Cotsy who often goes unheralded but continues to provide us contest after contest in the ruck, often against much bigger opponents. The joys of been the coach’s daughter. At three quarter time the game was still in the balance. Scores were Fitzroy 1.1.7 to Preston 2.0.12.
Had we done enough with the breeze in the third quarter was the question. Our challenge was to kick a goal into the wind in the final term and secure the victory. Sienna, our most courageous player, was moved into the forward line to give us some zip. Zoe, also having one of her best games for the club, was using her speed and ‘don’t argues’ at will. Dusty would be proud. We attacked the non scoring end immediately and kicked the only major for the term through some brilliant work from Gabby. Her evasive skills and kicking ability have always posed problems for the opposition. Fitzroy with the breeze were always going to score but Tyler and Victoria made sure they didn’t hurt us with any goals, with Tyler hanging on to a clinch mark in the dying minutes to see us run out comfortable victors in the end. Ayva B was awarded the opposition medal and the girls sung the song with passion. This is exactly what we needed, beating a good opponent away from home with the finals around the corner. I could not be prouder of the girls today and cannot wait until next week. Final scores were Fitzroy 1.2.8 to Preston 3.0.18.
I would like to thank Jamie for his help during the year and wish him all the best on his upcoming trip to the mother land. For those of you who are unaware, Jamie is a world renowned artist and has been commissioned by Manchester City Football Club to paint a locker room scene celebrating their history. He will be involved in the unveiling of his painting at an official function. The only negative is he will miss our entire finals campaign. Have a ripping time mate, you are a star! Thanks also to Sean Calcedo, the vice-captain from the Bullants Amateurs, who will be filling in for Jamie and Emma. Thank you to Bek (trainer), Mish (team manager), Pauline (boundary), Jim (umpire escort) and everyone else who helps out on the day. I would also like to thank Kev for his ongoing support of the Bullants family, big and small. The real stuff starts now so let us get around and support this amazing group of young women on their quest for the ultimate prize.
|Goal Kickers||Rufus 2, Jack 2, Josh, Liam, Caspian|
Maths can be hard. Algebra, calculus, combinatorial computational geometry, all of these can be difficult to understand. But today, the equation was simple: a win would guarantee finals action for the Preston Bullants.
From the outset, the boys showed they were on today, and were reluctant to leave their ladder position to chance on this final game of the season. The Bullants moved the ball forward well and with purpose, and a big tackle in the forward line by Mahmoud set the standard for pressure on the ball. Harry was eager to play his part in his first game back, and pushing up the ground with Brody, provided great defensive pressure against Fitzroy’s attempts to clear their backline. When Fitzroy were able to get forward, Lachie was ready to provide a contest, and Daniel, often outnumbered, was fearless and never gave in. Lucas provided lots of run, and Josh would kick the only goal for the term, but tellingly, would also lay a tackle in defence late in the quarter, making an impact at both ends of the ground.
The Bullants would continue to affect the contest in the second quarter, Rufus with his attack and tackling pressure up forward, and a great smother from Lachie on the wing. Jack led well all game, providing an option up forward, and Ben laid a great block that created an entry forward that resulted in a goal for Liam. The boys were full of run, Callum repeatedly intercepting Fitzroy’s forays forward, and Jacob who just about ran from one end of the ground to the other, not giving up and getting involved in a number of contests. Likewise, Seb F was tenacious up forward, standing tall in one-on-one contests.
With the third underway, the boys showed no signs of slowing down. Nathan’s run through the corridor and kick inside 50 gave Lucas a chance to unselfishly set up Jack for his first goal, and moments later would be involved with Coen to set up Rufus, who would unluckily kick another behind, a goal proving elusive for him. Seb R covered a lot of the ground, running to get to contests, and leading to provide a target for his teammates. Josh’s repeated efforts to win the ball would eventually present Rufus with a chance to score, and he did in style with a great snap that produced his first goal for the club. Within a minute, the boys would add another, Seb F taking a great contested mark, and finding Josh who spotted Caspian who also took a strong contested grab as an avenue towards his first for the match.
Leading by a significant 39-point margin at the start of the last quarter, the Bullants kept going. Ben was huge, at one point tackling two opposition players at the same time. Makaio toiled away in the ruck and around the ground, and Brody and Oscar continue to push up and apply mounting pressure that would create Rufus’ second goal. Jacob continued to attack up forward, and would give Jack a handball to kick the final goal of the match. Even in the dying moments of the match, the boys were up and about. Ben was commanding, an almost impregnable force in a role further up the ground, and Oscar’s hard chase to follow up his own wayward kick, none of the boys letting up until the very end. This was a huge, committed effort from the boys, with a resultant finals berth beckoning next week.
The team copped the full brunt of a very angry coach. He gave them a serve and a half. “If this is a training run, if that’s all this game is to you well mark my words you will be playing the Preliminary Final because you won’t win next week playing like that”. Marty and Nick were furious. “Lift your attitude” they implored. “This is not how we play footy! This is not Bullant footy!” And with that he let them stew in what had just happened.
The Bullants had come into the rooms at half time after what was probably the worst quarter of footy they have played this year. The boys knew it, the coaches knew it, the families and supporters knew it. And Parkside could sense that they could cause an upset. An upset that would reverberate across the Division and into the next round, the first round of Finals. Marty and Nick could not let that happen. They needed their charges to get fired up and take on the game in the second half.
To add to the half time woes was the news that Jack N was injured and would play no further part in the game. The team had to step up. Even though in real terms, this was, as they say, a dead rubber the Bullants could not dare adopt a so-what attitude. This would be their last hard run before the pointy end of what has been a fascinating season. One in which the team has grown in stature and skills, in confidence and capability. And they would need all that character growth and more to go all the way. This game was part of that grand narrative and that is why Marty called it as he did.
The day started pretty well. In the rooms before the game there was the kind of comradery that comes from a group that has shared success and learnings. There was a buoyant and friendly vibe; this was a team satisfied with what they have put in for the year. And Ted was in the team! Everyone cheered when the coach welcomed Ted into the Colts 1 fraternity.
The only stain on proceedings was having to wear clash jumpers. Being the away side the Bullants was reduced to wearing the YJFL teal coloured jumpers with different numbers to what they wore on their usual jumper. This made it difficult to note different players. Added to that, with Parkside wearing red and white you were forever readjusting your focus on a player or a good run. And in a tight stoppage it was really hard for the mind to see our team (dressed as they were in teal). What an unbecoming colour. Anyway, I digress.
JD took a good mark as the Bullants tried to get their engine pumping. Parkside scored a point. It felt that this game was being played at a different (slower) pace than usual. Henry was doing good work, to clear a Parkside forward entry. Then the Bullants started to fire. A clean set play saw a handpass to (well I have written 22 – Matty M) a running player and he runs into an open goal.
Parkside kicked a goal and hit the lead. Then Matty M, captain courageous, weaved through congestion as if the opposition were statues, and cleared the ball. Our backline was working overtime but we weren’t clicking up forward. Chilly was holding his line, Jack N was pushing hard. Then the Ants, even as the less dominant team in this quarter, pulled a goal like it was a rabbit out of a hat and we had the lead. Again we got it forward and this time Jackson K ran into a goal. The Ants engine was starting to purr with a good play from Chilly to Stevie to Matty and on to Rhett before the siren slowed things to a stop.
The Second really isn’t worth reviewing. Let’s put it this way. Parkside scored a point in the opening minute. Then a goal from the kick-out. I noted during this quarter that Parkside looked like they were playing to win and we looked like we were treating this as a training run. We went twelve minutes or so without scoring a goal. That finally came courtesy of a strong mark and even better kick from Mr Reliable, Rory. At the long break we were only four points ahead and looking like we would surrender that.
Well that didn’t happen. And no, we didn’t burst from the blocks and take the game by the scruff of the neck. But we would not raise the white flag either. Zac Ray lifted and was wining at the stoppages. Chico’s was clean in his use of the ball. Stevie took a strong mark and banged it deep into our forward zone. You could tell our work-rate had lifted. But we were playing a team that had a glimpse of success and they were going to chase that brass ring and damn the torpedoes. In the second half we had a true blue contest. This was our test.
Five minutes into this quarter the Devils hit the front. Matty M, literally following Marty’s instructions applied a terrific tackle down back. This stirred the troops. The ball went forward. Leo to Chico to Chambo (three O’s in a row) who soccered it through. Then Rory, from the centre and down Leo’s throat in the square for another. Stevie was a lynchpin. Johnny applied a ripper tackle. Sabrissa was switched on. This was our quarter despite the Devils getting a late goal. Marty to his squad – You answered half my question. Now go do it again!
The Last was literally the last quarter of the year for Parkside. There was one goal in it and they wanted this win desperately. For 10 minutes both teams slogged it out. The game was hard but fair. And neither side gave an inch. In this desperate period not a score was registered until in the eleventh minute the Devils scored a point. Well, that upped the stakes. It was a five point game.
But the Ants would not be denied. You don’t sit on top the ladder without having a battery of good players, as well as some grit in yer teeth. When Johnny marked 30m out on a 45 degree angle he was the Bullants. And he delivered. His goal sent a clear message to the Devils. If you want to beat us you’re going to have to work harder.
Then Jackson K took the game on. For a period he was everywhere. He sent at least three clean kicks deep into our forward line (and into the square). We didn’t convert but it kept the ball a long way from Parkside’s imagined destiny. While the Devils fought hard until the siren their dream did not come true. A Ted tackle very late in the quarter (which I for one thought it deserved a free) was the icing on this win. We may have lowered our colours in the Second (something the whole team can reflect on this week) but we flew the flag at the end. Well done Bullants, you’ve had a great season.
In decent conditions at PCO the boys played a very competitive match against Bulleen
We started well being ahead at quarter time as we were looking for our second win of the season.
Great effort from a lot of our lesser likes.
David asked all the boys before the game what they dream about doing in a game and gave them the licence to have a go at living that dream.
Pleasing to see our boys chase their dreams out there and have a go at kicking goals, taking speckies and playing as a team.
Personally, it was great to see Zach (Basher) get amongst the action and show us his skills, with his attack on the ball and nice kicking.
We weren’t quite up to Bulleen’s class in the end but a valiant effort all round. Thanks to all the players for giving their all for the club. It was followed the Pizza night which was a good time to reflect.